Creed II is the second part of the post-Rocky film franchise. In the first Creed film, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is a retired, washed-up ex-boxer living alone in a run-down apartment. He comes across a young boxer named Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) the son of his old friend and adversary Apollo Creed who was killed in the ring by Russian champion Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Rocky trains the young Adonis and makes him a champion.
In Creed II Adonis is on his way to becoming a champion again still fighting other boxers in the ring to retain his title. Ivan Drago in the meantime over in Russia 30 years later is training his son Viktor to be a literal pugilistic machine of boxers. Ivan has been disgraced in his country after being defeated by Rocky 30 years ago, His wife (Brigett Neilsen seen in cameos) has left him and his son so he is training him for a grudge rematch against Adonis.
Ivan visits Rocky in his restaurant much to Rocky’s amazement and tells him he wants a match with Adonis. Rocky informs Adonis and they arrange a match. Adonis is knocked down with broken rips and a ruptured kidney. The match was declared a mismatch because Viktor kept hitting Adonis after the bell rang so Adonis still retained his title.
After Adonis is healed Rocky takes him to a special place in the middle of the desert where ex-fighters go to be specially trained and reborn again through extreme rugged feats and plenty of strenuous exercise. Meanwhile, Ivan is training his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu, an actual boxer) over in Russia for their re-match. A re-match is arranged over in Russia and the fight sequence there is exciting and touch and go for the longest time.
There are some poignant moments in this film such as when Rocky visits the grave of his deceased wife Adrian and talks to her there and Adonis visiting his father’s grave, Apollo. Adonis proposes to and marries his longtime girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson) who is a singer and they have a baby girl who is born deaf.
Moving from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, partly so Bianca can pursue vaguely defined career opportunities of her own, she and Adonis spend more time with his mother, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad). When Rocky steps back from training, Adonis reaches out to Duke (Wood Harris), whose father was always in Apollo’s corner. Rocky’s estrangement from his own son, Robert, hangs over the movie, part of its weather system of loss and regret. Rocky tells Adonis he’s tried several times to call his son, but hangs up every time because he doesn’t know what to say.
On the way, it’s the moments of intimacy, pain and humor that make “Creed II” a solid and satisfying experience. Underneath the boxing epic is a warm, poignant hangout with a young couple and the elders who watch over them. It looks like a popcorn movie, but it’s a full course dinner.
The feeling of the film retains the old Rocky feelings of being up one minute and down the next and back up again with a musical score that again uses some of the old Rocky music.
The acting is superb and characters very intriguing though there are a lot of slow moments in between training and the fights that tend to drag on a bit. It was interesting seeing Dolf Lundgren again returning as Ivan Drago 30 years later and meeting Rocky for the first time. Both are old retired fighters now and not able to fight, but retain the same antagonism for each other. Especially Ivan hopes to regain his respect back in his country.
Stallone and Dolf Lundgren must be pretty great friends in real life as Dolf first appeared with him in Rocky 4 some 30 years ago and then in all three of The Expendables movies and now again in Creed 11.
Sylvester Stallone has said he won’t do any more Rocky movies and I agree. He’s 72 years old and time to hang it up for this series. This is the perfect ending for this franchise and sequels.
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